Yes, absolutely! We didn’t start out this way with Zachary. His interest is cooking started a few summers back after being enrolled in a summer cooking camp. He didn’t learn to cook per se in the camp. But it was fun, his first introduction to making pizza dough, getting his hands and body covered with sugary goodness, spilling food coloring all over his clothes, playing with his friends, and best of all eating his creation that he was supposed to share in the car. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to return to that camp but it did spark his interest in cooking – somewhat. And he would sit on the counter in order to see the stove, or ask to help with the eggs – cracking the shell, breaking the yolk, whisking – for one of his favorite breakfast of scrambled eggs. His latest interest in the kitchen is touching meat intended for the dinner table, exception seafood because of allergy. But his favorite pastime is sampling and giving feedback on food.
Dad, I’m trying to help you make the food taste better but I’m out of ideas.
Hmm, I’m not sure what its missing but I think you should add some more coriander, and a bit of pepper
A little more salt please?
It’s good, but it needs more sugar.
Thankfully, he has a sophisticated palette, just like his mom, and a good sense of smell too. As a result Zachary is the official food critic in our house for everything we cook with the exception of fish and seafood due to allergies. For the most part, Zachary employs the thumbs method for quality approval. Thumbs up if it is good. Thumbs sideways if it needs something. Thumbs down if it is downright bad, well maybe not downright bad – but it might require a little extra persuasion to get him to try again. At other times, especially if we are out he’ll use diplomacy i.e. “I think I’m full” or “I don’t think I like it very much” when pressed for a reason. But, he’s also very vocal about the things he likes and whom he prefers to make it.
Dad, you make the best chicken! or
Mom, you’re the best cook ever!
I suppose that asking to touch meats in particular comes from a sense of curiosity. Perhaps there is a little bit of culture, coming from eating with the hands, something often associated with African, Indian, and Asian ethnicities. In Ayurveda – the Hindu system of medicine which focuses on maintaining ones health by attaining balance through areas such as diet, yoga, breathing exercises, etc. – it is thought that touching ones food stimulates the senses, aids in digestion, and makes the meal more pleasurable. For my part, I grew up hearing my mom and other people saying that the secret to good cooking was in the hands. So there might be some truth to it. And he, Zachary, gets the best of both worlds – Jamaican & Indian heritage.
When it comes to cooking in our home, we are a house divided. On my part, I am the experimenter, always trying to see what happens if I add a little of this or that. I live in an “I wonder if” world. And I like to cook alone, taking my time to meticulously prepare each component, and I don’t like to measure anything. I am less successful at cooking a consistent dish than my wife is. My wife on the other hand, follows the rules of cooking. She has an excellent sense for what goes well together, follows recipes rarely ever deviating or substituting. Zachary, while not yet proficient, has a unique perspective to his approach which is, “I will try to make an omelet, but if I mess up, it will be scrambled eggs”.